A Word of Advice For Engaged Couples

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Johanna Hicks

By Johanna Hicks, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Community Health Agent, Hopkins County, [email protected].

Yes, I know this is not the most prevalent wedding season. However, engaged couples have already started planning summer and fall weddings. I recently had the opportunity to visit with State Representative Bryan Slaton in his Greenville office, and his eyes lit up when I mentioned the Twogether in Texas marriage education workshops which I had been leading for the past 8 to 10 years. His belief (and mine, as well) is that a strong marriage leads to strong families, and strong families lead to strong communities.

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Most of you know by now that I will be retiring at the end of January (more on that later!), but I have the approval to continue teaching the Twogether in Texas marriage education workshops in the interim period. I don’t have a date planned at this time, but keep posted! Engaged couples who take the workshop will be given a certificate to save $60 (the state portion) upon applying for a marriage license.

With that being said, I wanted to share a few tidbits from the curriculum. Expectations about love and marriage can have a powerful impact on relationships. “To a large degree, you will be disappointed or happy in life based on how well what is happening matches up with what you think should be happening.” (Markman, Blumberg & Stanley, 1990)

There are three common pitfalls regarding marriage expectations:

  1. Couples are often unaware of their own expectations. Not until they already feel the frustration or disappointment of unmet expectations do couples realize they had made some assumptions about how things “should” go. For example: “My father always gathered up the trash in the house. I guess I just assumed my partner would, too.”
  2. Expectations are unrealistic. Hollywood, love songs, and pop culture have a way of promoting and romanticizing unrealistic expectations. There is nothing wrong with wanting a great relationship, but expecting perfection is a slippery slope. Phrases such as “you complete me” paint unrealistic pictures of relationships.
  3. Couples fail to discuss their expectations with one another. There is sometimes a risk in expressing expectations. It may open up disagreement or rejection, and is therefore a vulnerable thing to do. The risk of not expressing expectations, however, is to set your relationship up for disappointment, hurt, and anger. So, discuss who will gather up the trash, clean the bathrooms, wash the dishes, etc.

As a friend once said, “Your expectations get you to the altar. Once there, you must alter your expectations.”

Some common myths may lead some couples astray. These include:

  • Myth #1: Marriage will help improve our relationship or will motivate my fiancé to change. (You accepted them as they are. Don’t expect change.)
  • Myth #2: Marriage will make me feel complete. (You are complete just as you are.)
  • Myth #3: Perfect marriages happen for perfect people. (There are no perfect people, so there are no perfect marriages. Communication and faith in God are crucial to a healthy relationship.)
  • Myth #4: Happily married couples never have serious problems. (Troubles make marriages stronger if you handle them as a team. Again, effective communication is key.)
  • Myth #5: Happy marriages are filled with romantic love and unwavering trust. (Romance may wane, but the love can continue to grow more deeply over time.)

All couples, whether engaged, seriously dating, or married, can be intentional about your time together. As Henry Ford says, “Coming together is easy; keeping together in progress, working together is success.”

Closing Thought

The more you understand your past, the more influence you’ll have over your future.

Contact Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Community Health Agent at the Hopkins County Office, P.O. Box 518 or 1200-B W. Houston, Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; 903-885-3443; or [email protected].

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Author: Faith Huffman

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